‘Mommy! I’m going to ask Santa for a baby in your belly!’ Doing all I could to keep it together, I replied, ‘That may be a hard promise for him to keep.’

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“The Christmas season has always been a magical time for me. With the birth of our daughter Olivia in 2011, my husband Brian and I experienced an all new level of magic by seeing the season through her eyes. It was always our plan to have two children, but you know the saying, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’

Tiny Wonder Photography

We started trying for baby number two in 2013 with little success. With Olivia, we were pregnant very quickly, so it was a bit of a shock when we learned we would need help this time around. If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of dealing with infertility, you will understand the frustration and heartbreak it can bring. If you haven’t, you are blessed. I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy.

The heartbreak started by going through multiple negative pregnancy tests. Then on our first IVF attempt, none of the embryos fertilized. Our second attempt was more successful, and we were pregnant! We exhaled, thinking the worst was behind us. Sadly, we miscarried early on in the pregnancy. Six months later, we finally had the green light to try again. This time, we did a frozen embryo transfer from the previous IVF cycle. Again, we were pregnant! And again, we miscarried. It was now August of 2016. I felt broken. We still had one frozen cycle left. My husband and I decided we would go through our last cycle, and if it didn’t work out, we would seek other avenues. I knew I had so much more love in my heart to offer another baby, but I also knew this process was taking its toll on my body and soul.

That summer, I began to see a therapist, Kristen, to deal with my increasing depression. After the second miscarriage, she felt that my body was holding on to the miscarriages, and that it would be in my best interest to work through them. She attended a seminar, on a form of therapy called gentle processing that was specifically for miscarriage. Through it, I was able to say goodbye to my angel babies. It was powerful, and effective.

Olivia was now 5 years old and thriving in kindergarten. Our girl is probably one of the most empathetic children you’ll ever meet. She goes out of her way to make sure those around her are happy. I would call her an old soul. Naturally, she was unaware of what her father and I had been going through.

Courtesy of Laura Gustafson

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, we were driving home from school. I remember exactly where we were on our route when she said to me, ‘Mommy! I know what I’m going to ask Santa for this Christmas! I’m going to ask him to have a baby sister in your belly!’ Doing all I could to keep it together, I replied, ‘Oh my girl! That is truly a wonderful Christmas wish. You can ask Santa, but that may be a hard promise for him to keep.’ She was very confident that Santa would be able to follow through, so that was the wish on the top of her list when everyone asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Well, that, and a cupcake maker.

On December 12th, my late grandmother’s birthday, I was meeting with Kristen for my weekly therapy session and we were talking about the next frozen embryo cycle I was about to do at the end of the month. She had been tracking dates and asked if everything was progressing on time. I shrugged and said, ‘Well I’m five days late.’ She stared at me for a moment before saying, ‘Five days. That’s a long time, don’t you think? Shouldn’t you….you know…..check that out?’ I responded with a shrug saying, ‘Nah, I’m not really thinking about it. I’ve been late before and it’s never meant anything.’ ‘Well,’ she paused. ‘Five days is a long time. If it were me, I’d want to know.’ Again, my reply was a shrug and a ‘maybe.’

After three years of let downs and one negative test after another, one tends to not get their hopes up. However, I could not get her words out of my head. ‘Five days is a long time……If it were me……’ Of course, I had forgotten my wallet at home that day, so I scrounged up some quarters in my car and stopped at the nearest Dollar Tree to purchase the finest pregnancy tests 8 quarters could buy. I bought two boxes and headed home…

I brushed by my husband and ran upstairs. As I stood in the bathroom and watched that positive pink line appear on the stick, I started to laugh out loud. My daughter was going to get her wish! I yelled down to Brian that I needed to see him for a second. He came upstairs, and laughing, I gestured to the test on the counter. ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ He said. ‘How?’ I replied with, ‘Well, apparently all we needed was for Olivia to ask Santa. If I had known that three years ago, it would have saved us a whole lot of trouble!’ We both laughed, and embraced. As excited as we were, we also knew we weren’t out of the woods yet.

At my next therapy session, I revealed to Kristen that I was pregnant. She was speechless. I thanked her for all her help. Through her gentle processing approach I was able to work through the trauma my body had experienced. I was also able grieve my failed pregnancies. Maybe this was the reset my body needed. Well, that, and a little Christmas magic.

I Love Olive Photography

I felt compelled to write a letter to Santa. The Santa at our local mall has always had a great relationship with Olivia. She would visit him on a regular basis, and he would recognize her and call her by name.

Courtesy of Laura Gustafson

We always made sure to visit him just before Christmas Eve to say goodbye until next year. This time, I had a letter for him. Here is what it said:

Dear Santa,

I’m writing to you to thank you for all you stand for, and what you have done for our family. As you know, your buddy Olivia asked for two things this Christmas; a cupcake maker, and for a baby sister to be in her mommy’s belly. What you don’t know is that we’ve been struggling with infertility for the past 3 years. Olivia and I were on our way home one day when she told me she was going to ask for a baby sister for Christmas. She never asks for that nor does she know how hard we have been trying, including medical treatments. It truly broke my heart and I explained that she is certainly allowed to ask, but that it might not work out.

My faith in the Christmas spirit, miracles, and the belief in Santa and the magic and wonderment he instills has forever been cemented. We are pregnant. No doctors. No treatments. A completely organic pregnancy. 

I remain cautiously optimistic as we suffered two miscarriages this year, but there’s just something about this one that I can feel in my heart that this time it’s going to work out.

So I thank you for providing such a Christmas miracle to my family. You have always been so good to my girl and she just adores you. You have been her Santa since she was a baby.     

I would like very much to keep in contact because you’re always so wonderful with Olivia. Here is my email and mailing address. Please consider dropping us a line sometime. I know she’d be thrilled. Thank you.  

I Will Always Believe,

Laura Gustafson

Courtesy of Laura Gustafson

On Christmas Morning, after Olivia opened her cupcake maker, she found a letter from Santa on the tree.

Dear Olivia,

I know you have asked for a baby sister to be in your Mommy’s belly. That is a wait and see type of gift that I don’t have much control over. I have sprinkled some magic dust on Mommy. It may not work right away. We will hope and see. You have been a great girl. Keep hoping and praying. I love you and see you next year.

Love,

Santa

A few days after Christmas, Santa sent two emails. One to me, and one to Olivia. He told me how moved he was by my letter and that he and his wife prayed for us at Christmas Eve Mass. He asked that we kept him updated on how things were going.

Our seven week ultrasound was five days after Christmas, which also happened to be my birthday. The fear was undeniable. Clutching each other’s hands, we cried tears of joy and relief when the ultrasound tech showed us the baby’s heartbeat. That was by far the best birthday present I could have ever asked for.

At the end of our first trimester, Olivia woke to find a present from Santa. It was a T-shirt that said, ‘Awesome daughters get promoted to Big Sisters.’ She was so excited.

I Love Olive Photography

That August, our son, James, was born. She got a brother instead of a sister, and that was OK.

Courtesy of Laura Gustafson
Courtesy of Laura Gustafson
I Love Olive Photography

We email Santa on a regular basis now. James got to meet him on his first Christmas and Santa was thrilled to be able to hold him and chat with his buddy Olivia.

Courtesy of Laura Gustafson

Never. Ever. Stop believing in the magic this time of year can bring. I am so blessed to have my two little miracles. Miss Olivia takes full credit for James being here, and that if she hadn’t wished for him, it wouldn’t have happened. I believe there’s some truth in that.

I Love Olive Photography

Magic, particularly Christmas magic, is a sacred and special thing. So is fate. It was fate that I found out I was pregnant on my grandmother’s birthday and fate when I found out on my own birthday that I wasn’t going to miscarry this time. Everything about this pregnancy was magical and surreal. Even when I was as big as a house, uncomfortable, and ready, I was still in disbelief that this was happening.

I thank the heavens every day for my Christmas miracle.”

I Love Olive Photography
Courtesy of Laura Gustafson

This is an exclusive story to Love What Matters. For permission to use, email Exclusive@LoveWhatMatters.com.

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Laura Gustafson of Norton, Massachusetts. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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